South African Police Investigate Shooting of Two Protesters

South African police are investigating allegations that their officers shot dead two people during violent protests demanding better water and sanitation services, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa said.

“We can assure the public that if any official is found guilty, they will face the consequences,” Mthethwa said today in an e-mailed statement, calling for calm. Two people were also injured in the incident yesterday, said Moses Dlamini, national spokesman from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Police may have fired live ammunition after protesters crossed a boundary to Madibeng where the municipal offices are located, Johannesburg-based Eyewwitness News reported, citing Basetsana Montsho from the Madibeng Mayoral Committee. The demonstrators were from Mothutlung, a shantytown 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Johannesburg where residents say they have been without water and sanitation for more than a month, according to Eyewitness News.

Twenty years after the end of apartheid, average earnings for black households are a sixth of their white counterparts, while about a fifth of the population of 53 million lack formal housing, and 2.3 million households don’t have proper toilets. A quarter of the working-age population is officially unemployed.

Discontent with the failure of the national and provincial governments to provide services to the poor has sparked protests across the country.

In August 2012, police fired on striking miners at Lonmin Plc’s (LMI) Marikana platinum mine, killing at least 34 people, in some of the worst violence since the end of apartheid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amogelang Mbatha in Johannesburg at ambatha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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